Like many of you, our team is closely monitoring the Coronavirus and staying up to date with factual news and information. We provide the following information to help guide you in making decisions for your business, your customers and employees. These next two weeks and potentially beyond are critical to how you as an owner and business respond.
As marketing professionals, we have been doing a lot of "social listening" and reading comments on Instagram, news, Facebook, Reddit, etc. It's what we do, especially, when we know environmental conditions (conditions you can't control, like weather) may have a large impact on your business activities. No matter what we believe professionally or personally, we have decided to chime in to address the situation because there is a lot of concern about how this will affect our business community.
There is so much news and information being shared that it is hard to avoid. In addition, it is only a matter of time before we have a confirmed case in our area and then people will truly react and we will see a large scale shift in behavior. Hospitality groups in Asheville are already reporting cancellations of hotel guests and events are in the works of being cancelled.
The biggest concern for business owners is the uncertainty of how much this will affect us all and how it will affect our local economy. No one knows what is in the mind of their customers or employees or what they are personally concerned about and for that reason, we urge you to make sure you are addressing the matter with them - directly, by email or social media post. It is our suggestion to communicate how your business is going to respond and not leave anyone guessing as they will then assume you are not paying attention or that you don't care. That's what people are saying and I'm reading those comments frequently.
For business owners, here's what Marketing Outpost suggests:
1) Address the issue in a matter of fact way. Let your employees and customers know that you are being diligent and ready to change action, if necessary. No matter what you think, external factors may impact your business especially if the Federal government or local governments take that kind of action. So, better to address it now.
2) Point everyone to credible sources like the CDC or local governmental sites.
3) Encourage your employees and customers to wash their hands before and after each visit.
4) Wipe down shared surfaces after visits and at the end of the day before going home.
5) Tell your employees that if they are not feeling well at all, they need to stay home and that they are okay with that.
6) Consider options with your management about what to do if you do have to have employees stay home for a period of time as there will be a disruption in service and sales.
7) As an owner, you should think about payroll options while your employees are out as that may likely be the case.
8) If you can, create other options for meeting. If you must do sales calls, wear appropriate gear like gloves.
9) If you had any planned group gatherings, conferences, etc., then you need to monitor them closely as they are getting rescheduled or canceled altogether. You need to decide for yourself and your business what you will do. In some cases, these events are getting canceled and they have nothing to do with you but the perception of that group to the community.
10) If your business was planning on any kind of group activity or event, then monitor this closely and create a contingency plan. You may need to hold off or reschedule or downscale. In the event you have to put down deposits of any kind, then you should ensure you can get your money back or then make a decision about proceeding.
11) If you work with healthcare providers of any kind, I encourage you to contact them and find out how they want you to work. You may need to wear gloves or change your process. Better to find out now and ask those questions.
12) Of course, follow all the CDC guidelines - you've seen them many times - cough into your elbow, don't shake hands, wash hands frequently for 15 seconds, etc.
What is Marketing Outpost doing?
For now, we are continuing with meetings as most of our meetings are one-on-one but we may have to change that at a moment's notice. If a personal meeting is not necessary, we will give you phone or video options.
Video and Phone Options
However, many meetings are not necessary to host in-person. We utilize Zoom video which allows us to have face-to-face meetings and can even share screens if I need to go over documents with you. I encourage you to use our Zoom meeting option as a priority. We can also always continue to communicate via email and phone.
I sanitized the office this past Sunday - thoroughly cleaning all surfaces, mopping, etc. The office is equipped with Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer in the event you are meeting there. If you meet there, I encourage you to wash hands before and after meetings. After each meeting, we are wiping down surfaces - tables, doors, bathroom areas.
If you have any questions, please do ask. I'm not one to create hype but as a marketer, business owner and community member, I do know that I need to address it and not stick my head in the sand - as much as I would like to. Governmental agencies and local governments are making that hard to do. If you need help communicating with your customers or clients, let me know.